EY2012 – a happy and glorious year for older Europeans?

This blog was contributed by Nicola Robinson, Age UK’s European Political Adviser.

2012 wasn’t just the year of the London Olympics, and the Queen’s Jubilee, it was also the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (EY2012).

Like London 2012 – recognised as happy and glorious, EY2012 leaves us with much to celebrate.

The Opening Ceremony took place in Copenhagen – a pretty good place to grow old, with impressive participation rates in employment, volunteering and all sorts of fun.EY2012

Commissioner Andor fired the starting pistol and Eurocrats were off to a flyer, producing a bumper crop of pan-European reports, including a Statistical Portrait, 2012 Ageing Report, and Eurobarometer Survey.

There are now 182m Europeans aged 50+, living longer, more active lives than ever before.

To celebrate, Age UK hosted a World Café, organized by older people, inviting 100 Europeans aged 50+ to help change perceptions of ageing.  We also celebrated the huge contribution of older people at our Volunteering Awards, supported by the European Commission and Parliament.  And we celebrated physical activity in later life, through our Fit as a Fiddle programme, which won EU and WHO plaudits. Continue reading “EY2012 – a happy and glorious year for older Europeans?”

Guest blog: Healthy Ageing – Perspectives of Older Adults

This guest blog was contributed by Dr Grania Fenton, Research Fellow at the University of Leeds.

As more of us are living longer, more of us are living with the effects of cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes. This does not mean that cardiovascular events are inevitable though. In fact, they are usually preventable, as 80% of factors contributing to them are lifestyle related, i.e. caused by things such as an unhealthy diet and a lack of physical activity.

Active lifestyle schemes, like the one at the Hamara Community Centre in Leeds, aim to help people change their lifestyles by providing group activity and education sessions to help them become more active and eat more healthily, and so reduce their risk of a cardiovascular event.

We wanted to find out what older adults referred to the scheme thought about the scheme and the things that helped them to lead healthy lifestyles or got in the way, as well as ageing and health in general. We spoke to 8 women and 5 men between the ages of 64 and 82 (average age 69).

All had been referred to the scheme by their GP or practice nurse, all but one were retired, and whilst six were still attending the scheme regularly, five had attended regularly in the past, one had attended infrequently and one had never attended. Continue reading “Guest blog: Healthy Ageing – Perspectives of Older Adults”

Tackling dementia: the next big issue of the 21st century?

Age UK has recently launched the most comprehensive synthesis of evidence into the Health outcomes of older people, which looks at trends between 2005 and 2012. What it shows is that dementia is one of the next big challenges of the 21st century. Like cancer 20 years ago, we need to get to grips with this disease and begin to tackle it head on.

The numbers have been widely reported, but they are stark – we have roughly 800 000 people with dementia and this predicted to increase to just under 2 million by 2050. The chance of having dementia goes from 1 in 20 at 65 to 1 in 3 by the time you reach 90. This rise in numbers is going to have a huge impact on our society.

If we’re going to support the numbers of people with dementia in the future and ultimately find a way of treating the disease, what is required is a ‘step change’ in our collective mind set. One of the reasons we’ve made such good progress in fighting cancer is because of the very successful campaigns and initiatives that have fostered collective action across all parts of society to unite and do something about it – be that fundraising, research, improved treatment in hospital, better care for people suffering for the disease. We need this level of awareness and action to create change in the treatment and support of dementia. Continue reading “Tackling dementia: the next big issue of the 21st century?”

Will the sensors look after us?

This guest blog was contributed by Dr Maggie Mort, Reader, and Dr Celia Roberts, Senior Lecturer, of Lancaster University.

There seems to be an assumption everywhere that ‘doing more for less’ is in itself a virtue. Take telecare (the provision of home care at a distance by means of devices linked to a central call centre). It is said that this will enable economies of scale because large numbers of people (who may be chronically ill or frail) can be monitored in their own homes at the same time, making services more efficient.

There will be less need, it is argued, for home visits by paid carers and healthcare workers. Sensors placed around the home will detect problems such as gas leaks, falls or restlessness. It is claimed that these systems will give peace of mind and crucially enable older people to stay in their own homes for longer, rather than have to move into residential care. Continue reading “Will the sensors look after us?”

Celebrating the achievements of older people

1 October is the International Day of Older Persons.  Age International sees this as a time to celebrate the achievements of older people and a time to celebrate increased life expectancy around the world.


In Vietnam, Van Quang and Vu Thi celebrate a long and happy marriage

Population ageing is one of the most significant trends of the 21st century. With 1 in 9 persons in the world aged 60 years or over, projected to increase to 1 in 5 by 2050, population ageing is a phenomenon that can no longer be ignored.

It has important and far-reaching implications for all aspects of society.

Population ageing is happening in all regions and countries at various levels of development. It is progressing fastest in developing countries, including those that have a large population of young people. Of the current 15 countries with more than 10 million older persons, seven of these are developing countries.

Ageing is a triumph of development and increasing longevity is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. People live longer because of improved nutrition, sanitation, medical advances, health care, education and economic well-being. Continue reading “Celebrating the achievements of older people”

Guest blog: The Group is the Cure

This guest blog was written by Professor Catherine Haslam, recently of Exeter University and now at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Despite living in a world that claims to value its social relationships, we still have a blind spot when it comes to harnessing these relationships in protecting our health and well-being.

Our tendency is to rely primarily on medical and technological advance, but we know now that we do so at our peril if we fail to build our social networks at the same time.

Belonging to social groups and networks — whether they involve family, friends, work colleagues, or other relationships — has been shown, in numerous studies, to be an important predictor of health; just as important as diet and exercise.

The Social Effect

When Holt-Lunstad and colleagues evaluated this collection of research in their meta-analysis, they found that the magnitude of the effect of social relationships on mortality was comparable to quitting smoking, and exceeded that for obesity, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity. Continue reading “Guest blog: The Group is the Cure”

Guest Blog: The involvement of ‘older people’ in research and other projects

This guest blog was contributed by Bill Bytheway, Visiting Research Fellow at the Open University, and author of Unmasking Age (Policy Press, 2011).

On page 124 of my book, ‘Ageism’ (1995), I attempted to describe how ‘a room for older people’ might admit anyone, regardless of age, on the basis of self-definition. I argued that it would be perfectly feasible and acceptable for anyone to enter it, and request services designed to assist ‘older’, rather than ‘younger’, people. In making the case, I remembered a woman of 55 who lived on her own and was in hospital with a broken leg. At the time (the mid-1980s) I was working for a hospital discharge scheme that focused exclusively on patients aged 65 or more. ‘Is there any help available to people like me?’ she asked. It was this simple question which made me realise how ageist all forms of age bar are, no matter how well-intentioned.

The RoAD (Research on Age Discrimination) projectwas undertaken between

The research team and field workers from the RoAD project

2004 and 2007 by a team based at the Open University, working in collaboration with Help the Aged. When we were planning the project, we decided to involve older people at all stages and in all roles and that, in implementing this aim, we would not impose any age bars. No one would be deemed too old or too young to take part. The only requirement was that participants should understand that they were involved, possibly amongst other things, as ‘older people’.

Continue reading “Guest Blog: The involvement of ‘older people’ in research and other projects”